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Dazzle camouflage affects speed perception.

Scott-Samuel NE, Baddeley R, Palmer CE, Cuthill IC - PLoS ONE (2011)

Bottom Line: Here we show that dazzle patterns can distort speed perception, and that this effect is greatest at high speeds.The effect should obtain in predators launching ballistic attacks against rapidly moving prey, or modern, low-tech battlefields where handheld weapons are fired from short ranges against moving vehicles.In the latter case, we demonstrate that in a typical situation involving an RPG7 attack on a Land Rover the reduction in perceived speed is sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a metre, which could be the difference between survival or not for the occupants of the vehicle.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom. n.e.scott-samuel@bris.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Movement is the enemy of camouflage: most attempts at concealment are disrupted by motion of the target. Faced with this problem, navies in both World Wars in the twentieth century painted their warships with high contrast geometric patterns: so-called "dazzle camouflage". Rather than attempting to hide individual units, it was claimed that this patterning would disrupt the perception of their range, heading, size, shape and speed, and hence reduce losses from, in particular, torpedo attacks by submarines. Similar arguments had been advanced earlier for biological camouflage. Whilst there are good reasons to believe that most of these perceptual distortions may have occurred, there is no evidence for the last claim: changing perceived speed. Here we show that dazzle patterns can distort speed perception, and that this effect is greatest at high speeds. The effect should obtain in predators launching ballistic attacks against rapidly moving prey, or modern, low-tech battlefields where handheld weapons are fired from short ranges against moving vehicles. In the latter case, we demonstrate that in a typical situation involving an RPG7 attack on a Land Rover the reduction in perceived speed is sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a metre, which could be the difference between survival or not for the occupants of the vehicle.

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Examples of dazzle camouflage used in the First and Second World Wars.From top left: HMS Argus, SS Empress of Russia, Mauretania (World War One); USS Inaugural, HMAS Yarra (World War Two). Photographs from Wikipedia Commons.
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pone-0020233-g001: Examples of dazzle camouflage used in the First and Second World Wars.From top left: HMS Argus, SS Empress of Russia, Mauretania (World War One); USS Inaugural, HMAS Yarra (World War Two). Photographs from Wikipedia Commons.

Mentions: But even if an object has been both detected and identified, it may still be able to avoid capture by distorting its apparent velocity or range, an idea originating with Thayer's [8] theories of animal camouflage but apparently developed independently for military purposes by Wilkinson [9]–[11]. Patterns which aimed to do this were applied to ships during the two World Wars of the twentieth century (see fig.1); the technique became known as “dazzle camouflage” on one side of the Atlantic, and “razzle dazzle” on the other. The claim at the time was that this camouflage would disguise the range, heading, size, shape and speed of individual units, and also make individuating ships difficult if several were sailing together; the primary aim was to reduce losses from torpedo attacks by submarines.


Dazzle camouflage affects speed perception.

Scott-Samuel NE, Baddeley R, Palmer CE, Cuthill IC - PLoS ONE (2011)

Examples of dazzle camouflage used in the First and Second World Wars.From top left: HMS Argus, SS Empress of Russia, Mauretania (World War One); USS Inaugural, HMAS Yarra (World War Two). Photographs from Wikipedia Commons.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3105982&req=5

pone-0020233-g001: Examples of dazzle camouflage used in the First and Second World Wars.From top left: HMS Argus, SS Empress of Russia, Mauretania (World War One); USS Inaugural, HMAS Yarra (World War Two). Photographs from Wikipedia Commons.
Mentions: But even if an object has been both detected and identified, it may still be able to avoid capture by distorting its apparent velocity or range, an idea originating with Thayer's [8] theories of animal camouflage but apparently developed independently for military purposes by Wilkinson [9]–[11]. Patterns which aimed to do this were applied to ships during the two World Wars of the twentieth century (see fig.1); the technique became known as “dazzle camouflage” on one side of the Atlantic, and “razzle dazzle” on the other. The claim at the time was that this camouflage would disguise the range, heading, size, shape and speed of individual units, and also make individuating ships difficult if several were sailing together; the primary aim was to reduce losses from torpedo attacks by submarines.

Bottom Line: Here we show that dazzle patterns can distort speed perception, and that this effect is greatest at high speeds.The effect should obtain in predators launching ballistic attacks against rapidly moving prey, or modern, low-tech battlefields where handheld weapons are fired from short ranges against moving vehicles.In the latter case, we demonstrate that in a typical situation involving an RPG7 attack on a Land Rover the reduction in perceived speed is sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a metre, which could be the difference between survival or not for the occupants of the vehicle.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom. n.e.scott-samuel@bris.ac.uk

ABSTRACT
Movement is the enemy of camouflage: most attempts at concealment are disrupted by motion of the target. Faced with this problem, navies in both World Wars in the twentieth century painted their warships with high contrast geometric patterns: so-called "dazzle camouflage". Rather than attempting to hide individual units, it was claimed that this patterning would disrupt the perception of their range, heading, size, shape and speed, and hence reduce losses from, in particular, torpedo attacks by submarines. Similar arguments had been advanced earlier for biological camouflage. Whilst there are good reasons to believe that most of these perceptual distortions may have occurred, there is no evidence for the last claim: changing perceived speed. Here we show that dazzle patterns can distort speed perception, and that this effect is greatest at high speeds. The effect should obtain in predators launching ballistic attacks against rapidly moving prey, or modern, low-tech battlefields where handheld weapons are fired from short ranges against moving vehicles. In the latter case, we demonstrate that in a typical situation involving an RPG7 attack on a Land Rover the reduction in perceived speed is sufficient to make the grenade miss where it was aimed by about a metre, which could be the difference between survival or not for the occupants of the vehicle.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus